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German minister, Horst Seehofer, wants to decrypt your private messages

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“Let’s decrypt!” – could easily be one German minister’s campaign slogan, given his determination to take away the right of users to have private conversations when using their messaging apps.

Namely, Der Spiegel writes, also citing several other German media outlets, that Interior Minister Horst Seehofer plans to impose an obligation on secure apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, and others, to record messages exchanged on their platforms, and hand them over to the authorities in the plain text format.

The authorities would, in turn, have to have a court order to make such a request.

And this could only be done by introducing encryption backdoors into the software, or completely stripping the apps of their end-to-end encryption feature.

However, the German Interior Ministry said that messaging apps would still be allowed to use encryption – but would also have to build in “state-of-the-art access to the contents of communication as a legally regulated exemption for their users.”

If these platforms refuse to get strip their users of privacy in this way, they will be banned, said Seehofer. According to reports, the plan is to push this new rule through by the end of the year.

Germany is not the only country with an ax to grind against secure communications – in fact, this has by now become a global trend, bringing together a very diverse group of countries like Russia, Australia, China, Syria, and Iran.

Authorities elsewhere, like in France and Britain, are also fiery proponents of removing end-to-end encryption when it suits law enforcement agencies and would like to see the practice come to life in their countries as well.

In the EU itself, Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova two years ago spoke about plans to let authorities have access to encrypted messages.

And in the US, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the same year that “warrant-proof encryption defeats the constitutional balance by elevating privacy above public safety.”

But the report also notes that banning encrypted messages is a task that’s “virtually impossible.”

Meanwhile, Seehofer, a politician from Germany’s ruling CDU, is no stranger to controversial ideas aimed at boosting surveillance and undermining citizens’ freedoms and privacy. One of these was to install video surveillance “at every hot spot in the country” as reported by Germany’s state broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

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